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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jun
6

Review: Venom in the Veins by Jennifer Estep

Review: Venom in the Veins by Jennifer Estep Venom in the Veins Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: A few weeks have passed since Gin’s confrontation with the Doll Maker, so of course, it’s time for things to go sideways in Ashland again. This time, someone is targeting her friend, and Finn’s boss, Stewart Mosley. And everything appears to be tied to the upcoming auction of Mab Monroe’s possessions and a person of interest who has her eye set on making sure things are just right.  Venom in the Veins is the seventeenth book in the Elemental Assassin series. The cast of characters has grown, and I love that Gin’s circle of friends has expanded. She has learned to turn to her family and friends for help and support, giving up pieces of herself and trust to them. It’s made Gin a better character, and I appreciate her drive to keep them safe. I love Gin. I do. But… at Book 17, things no longer feel as fresh and exciting as they used too. The world building has been solidly established, so the constant need to remind readers of Gin’s history and idiosyncrasies is starting to annoy me. Additionally, I felt this storyline is old news. Once again, Gin faces down a person from and/or connected to her past. It just seems like that storyline has played out a number of times in the series.  The overall story arc relating to the mysterious Circle continues to grab my interest, as does the main face of the group, Hugh Tucker. I enjoyed seeing more of Hugh, especially with his actions in this title. With that said, I would have preferred more movement forward within the plot. The little tidbits tossed in with each book aren’t enough, and I’d like for Gin to catch a break and discover more. In the end, I have mixed feelings after finishing Venom in the Veins. I enjoy Gin and her gang. Watching her pull the clues together to take down the bad guys is thrilling. However, I feel like Gin is running in circles (pun intended) as she tries to find out more about the threat of the Circle. She’s not really getting any closer to discovering what the Circle is, who they are, what her parents had to do with it. Additionally, the storylines are starting to feel too much the same.  My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the...
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Jun
4

JIAM #Audiobook Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

JIAM #Audiobook Review: Brief Cases by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Brief Cases Author: Jim Butcher Narrators: James Marsters, Cassandra Campbell, Julia Whelan, Oliver Wyman, Jim Butcher Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #15.1 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: Penguin Random House Audio Brief Cases is a delightful anthology of novellas and shorts all set in the Dresden world. While one could listen/read without having read Dresden previously, I think the stories are more meaningful and entertaining for the fans of the series. The tales take place over a wide-ranging time period, from before Harry’s birth, to events that take place shortly after the conclusion of Skin Game, the most recent full-length story. If you are not up-to-date with your Dresden reading, there are huge spoilers in some of the stories. Generally, the narration is high caliber. Most of the stories, all those told from Dresden’s point-of-view, are performed by James Marsters, and he is the absolute best! It’s been over a year since I last listened to new Dresden titles, and hearing his voice felt like coming home. He is truly amazing, able to portray deep emotion and those inexplicable non-verbal cues that make the difference between reading and performing the work. Most of the other narrators fit their personas and did a solid job. I’ve included comments about each narrator with the story they perform.  A FISTFUL OF WARLOCKS (from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boon), read by Cassandra Campbell Luccio takes on necromancers in the Wild West. Set long before the events of the series. Not my favorite story, but gives backstory on a dangerous nemesis from present day. I liked that part of the story, but wasn’t a fan of the tie-in with Wyatt Earp. The narrator had a lovely Italian accent, fitting of Luccio. But I didn’t really care for her other character voices, and the speed was difficult for me to get just right. Even though it was fast for Luccio, I ended up pushing to 1.5x speed because Earp’s drawl was painfully slow. I didn’t care for his voice… a bit grating. B-/C+ (Story/Narration) B IS FOR BIGFOOT (from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan), read by James Marsters Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes. Mr. Butcher adds Bigfoot to his expansive world. Harry is hired by a “forest person” to look in on his half-human son, who seems to be experiencing a supernatural...
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Jun
1

JIAM #Audiobook Review: Unleashing Magick by Debbie Cassidy

JIAM #Audiobook Review: Unleashing Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Unleashing Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Unleashing Magick is the fourth and final novel in The Witch Blood Chronicles series.  I never realized that this was the last novel, but upon finishing, it was a satisfying conclusion to Carmella’s overall journey. Carmella has overcome much, and this novel picks up right where the previous novel, Embracing Magick, stops.  She is struggling due to the strain of being the anchor between the witches and the skein (the source of magic).  Carmella is also still battling the mating urge of her asura/dragon nature.  Unfortunately, this is secondary to the impending doom in the form of cosmic gods who intend to take away humanity’s free will.  Nevertheless, Carmella is used to juggling multiple things; with the assistance of her friends (and some quick thinking), she is sure to save the world…just maybe not herself. This final novel was a thrilling ride as our heroes attempt to get ahead and stop the cosmic gods.  However, they experience much of the old adage: “a little too late,” they never give up.  I do not want to give anything away, but I loved the twist at the end.  Carmella is loyal, courageous, and true to her word.  I really loved watching her grow and become the person she not only wanted to be, but the true best of herself.  Her romantic triangle is resolved – and I really loved her choice.  The fact that she wanted to make sure of her own feelings made me respect her even more.   Ms. Naqvi’s performance over the course of the series has been wonderful.  I enjoyed her portrayal of not only Carmella’s personality, but also the personalities (complete with varied accents) of the other characters.  With her expert narration, I was able to immerse myself in the world, and I look forward to revisiting these audiobooks. If you are interested in a different urban fantasy world with a captivating and compelling mythology and determined heroine, The Witch Blood Chronicles are for you.  I highly recommend listening to the series as Ms. Naqiv expertly voices the characters and draws you in.  I hope Ms. Cassidy will continue writing in this world as I feel there are more stories to experience. My Ratings: Story: A Narrator:...
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May
31

Review: Owl and the Tiger Thieves by Kristi Charish

Review: Owl and the Tiger Thieves by Kristi Charish Owl and the Tiger Thieves Author: Kristi Charish Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Owl and the Tiger Thieves is the exciting return of Owl after a devastating blow in the previous novel, Owl and the Electric Samurai.  Though left with another cliffhanger, the story continues to grow and intrigue. Owl has become a lynchpin in a supernatural war.  She did not start out on this path; but a series of bad choices, unfortunate events, and maybe a little of her sarcasm has brought her to this point.  Now Owl is a lot more reckless and drastically more desperate as she works to stop the Electric Samurai before too many innocents are lost.  However, woefully the proud underdog, Owl finds herself teamed up with a previous enemy to try to save the world without sacrificing herself. This is the fourth book in a fascinating series that is a cross between Lara Croft/Indiana Jones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, Owl has been a complete underdog.  Her expertise is not good luck, but being able to get out of any bad situation with only minor injuries and epic amounts of collateral damage.  There is no way that Owl can continue on this path, and I have been wondering about her lack of self-defense skills.  Apart from the overarching plot of Owl against the Electric Samurai and her thieving for the Japanese Dragon, some much-needed soul-searching occurs in this novel.  I enjoyed her self-reflection and look forward to seeing what happens next for Owl. Though the ending is a huge one-eighty-degree turn from the start, I am eager to see what happens next.  It goes to show that just because you can save the day, does not mean the victims will be happily grateful.  Due to the ramifications of the end, I am anxious to know where Owl will find herself next and if she will truly survive. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Through no fault of her own, Alix has found herself essential to the fate of the world as we know it. She didn’t mean for this to happen—she was quite happy being merely the notorious antiquities thief, and ex-archeologist, known as Owl. However, years ago, Owl reluctantly entered the secret world of the supernatural. Her goals: complete one job, escape one bounty on her head, continue her thieving in peace. Fast forward to today. Now, she has become a key player in...
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May
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All Spell is Breaking Loose by ReGina Welling & Erin Lynn

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All Spell is Breaking Loose by ReGina Welling & Erin Lynn Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: All Spell is Breaking Loose Authors: ReGina Welling & Erin Lynn Narrator: C.S.E. Cooney Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Lexi Balefire Matchmaking Witch Mystery/Fate Weaver #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery Source: Tantor Audio All Spell is Breaking Loose: A Lexi Balefire Matchmaking Witch Mystery is a satisfying sequel to the first novel in the Fate Weaver series.  Lexi continues to try to learn more about her past, her abilities and if she is lucky, continue to put soulmates together, strengthening love in the world. Lexi always thought her mother was dead, killed by her grandmother.  However, Lexi discovers that not only is her mother alive, she was the mysterious shop owner that helped her to come into her powers.  Now Sylvana is back, supposedly to reconnect with her daughter and help her develop fully into her fate weaver abilities.  Her fairy godmothers, Salem and even Kin are not so sure, nor are they convinced that Sylvana has Lexi’s best interests at heart.  Especially when Lexi finds out that the famed Bow of Destiny, Cupid’s bow, is lost.  Sylvana is happy to help Lexi find it before someone else does, but is she doing it for Lexi or just using her? I continue to enjoy this quirky, fun, and light-hearted series.  Lexi can be a complete flake and incredibly dense, but she is endearing and cares deeply for her friends, her family, and her beau Kin.  Though spunky and crafty, Lexi is easily fooled by the reappearance of her mother, Sylvana.  As any girl raised without her mother, she dreamed they would be reunited one day and is over the moon when it happens.  However, I am sure she never dreamed their reunion would be like this with Sylvana asking Lexi to sneak into other witch’s homes or keep secrets from her adoptive family.   Ms. Cooney continues to capture Lexi’s personality and quirks perfectly.  I enjoy her vocal interpretation of Lexi.  She also does a good job with the varied assortment of other character voices.  It is easy to keep track of the distinct characters by their voices.  I look forward to listening to Ms. Cooney continue to capture the voice of this series. The Fate Weaver continues to be a light-hearted and fun series.  I enjoy how Lexi continues to be a force of good in the world while also maintain a unique family and history. ...
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May
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Embracing Magick by Debbie Cassidy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Embracing Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Embracing Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Embracing Magick is the thrilling third novel in The Witch Blood Chronicles.  I continue to be enthralled by the over-arching nemesis plot lines along with Carmella’s own personal journey. This series just seems to get more and more fascinating.  As the novel beings, Carmella is still trying to figure out her own family issues (the identity of her mother and father).  However, knowledge comes with a price.  With her asura side fully released, her inner dragon is now a partner within her and she is discovering what the fine print says.  One of the biggest issues that Carmella needs to work out is that female dragon asuras go through a needing period.  Unlike a normal mating issue, this needing requires the female dragon to find a permanent mate.  Due to the delay in Carmella accessing this side of her nature, her dragon is giving her little time (or options) to find and mate.  Not that she doesn’t have her hands full trying to find out what is happening to the disappearing people – or the foreboding feeling that she hasn’t seen the last of Banner or his evil plot.  However, Carmella is still nursing a broken heart.  She is reluctant to accept the first male her dragon approves of.  I truly respect Carmella as she does some soul-searching before she makes that life-long commitment.  Especially as she is trying to puzzle out if her affection for Paimon is real or a lingering side effect of the binding. The continuing Hindu inspired mythology mixed with the British environment is fascinating to me.  Though I am unfamiliar with this mythology, I find myself absolutely engrossed in this world’s amalgamation of it.  I enjoyed learning more about it as Carmella learned more about her asura nature, training with Vitra.  The different and varied supernatural beings were interesting.  I liked how it seems that Carmella has a knack for being able to not only work with but also assist in getting different supernatural entities to work together.  Nevertheless even with the assistance of Carmella’s friends and the IEUPE, it may not be enough to stop the evil that is coming. Ms. Naqvi continues bring this world and the characters to vivid and perfect life. ...
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May
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Defying Magick by Debbie Cassidy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Defying Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Defying Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Defying Magick is a wonderful sequel to Binding Magick in the Witch Blood Chronicles series.  I enjoyed the continuing saga of Carmella and the unknown threat to humanity. Defying Magick takes place shortly after the conclusion of Binding Magick.  Carmella’s asura power has been unlocked and is surging forward.  As Carmella attends a yaksha gathering with her new friend, Honey, the unthinkable happens.  Beings appear from nowhere and begin to slaughter friends and family.  Carmella tries to help, but there is nothing to be done, most of the yaksha are eliminated.  This leaves Honey as the new Alpha of the pack.  When Carmella tries to offer support as Honey meets with the other pack Alphas, her asura power comes out in a vengeance; in the shape of a dragon.  With her new position with the IEPEU, Carmella is determined to track down the culprit and bring surcease to Honey. Unfortunately it puts Carmella in the culprit’s cross-fire. I continue to really love Carmella; she’s loyal, determined, compassionate, fierce and yet kind. Though the novel is compact, it is not lacking in character development or action.  I really enjoyed following Carmella as she tracks down the person responsible for the attacks while trying to acclimate to the new asura powers and its detractions.  Between her and her friends, the camaraderie is enthralling and endearing.  Though there is a bit of a love triangle, Carmella is smart.  She takes her time to grieve what can never be and take the time to heal before jumping into something too quickly.  It’s tough to not be able to not only relate to Carmella but root for her. It was completely surprising to find out who the ultimate nemesis was.  That being said, the cliffhanger ending was nail-bitingly fascinating and irritating.  Though it appeared that the threat is over, I agree with Carmella that more is to come.  Between the mysterious ending, the surprising appearance of Mira and her surging asura needs, I look forward to knowing what happens next in this series. Ms. Naqiv continues to be the voice of Carmella.  I love her portrayal of not only Carmella’s personality, but he voices and characterization of the other characters. Though I admit the British...
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May
16

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter

Review: Dark Queen by Faith Hunter Dark Queen Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: As what was initially intended to be the final Jane Yellowrock title, Dark Queen had a lot of expectations to live up to. And I think it did so very well. This story moves incredibly fast, especially towards the end, making it at once a little difficult to keep up with in places, as well as the most thrilling of these stories to date.  One of my favorite thing about this series is that Jane has never escaped having to deal with the consequences of her actions. She has made a lot of mistakes, and learned from the various outcomes. Even better, she’s still learning. She’s also still imperfect and conflicted, but, finally, she’s found peace with Beast and isn’t alone.  This was a tough read in both good and bad ways for me. Dark Queen is the culmination of all the twists and turns in the previous stories and ends in no-holds-barred combat between Leo and his subjects and his European former master who’s determined to destroy him and take over everything. As such, the author isn’t kind, and too many specifics here would ruin it. In an effort to avoid direct spoilers, I’ll leave additional opinions on that part alone, since long-term readers will likely want to get all the details straight from the narrative themselves. There were a couple of things about Dark Queen that bothered me, but not enough to diminish my overall enjoyment of the story. Though I’m always left confused by some of the details that are dropped across the Jane Yellowrock tales, the succinct recaps that are provided by Jane digging through her own memory in this case didn’t always help. More critically, I felt that the dangling of hope in certain instances did more harm than good, and wasn’t entirely necessary, but that’s likely a personal quirk, and not something that will affect most other readers. The fact that I still can’t keep track of all the players is actually more of a testament to the author’s skills as a storyteller than a fault, and makes me regret not making a spreadsheet of everything from the moment I started the series. Dark Queen would have been a good, if bittersweet, ending to the Jane Yellowrock series, but the discovery that there will be at least two more to follow made it even better. There were many questions answered...
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May
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl by Orlando A. Sanchez

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl by Orlando A. Sanchez Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Full Moon Howl Author:  Orlando A. Sanchez Narrator:  Kevin T. Collins Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Montague & Strong Case Files #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Detective Source: Tantor Audio This second installment in the Montague and Strong Detective Agency series was just as nail-bitingly exciting and humorous as the previous novel.  Though we learn a bit more about Monty, we still do not have the whole story behind Simon.   Full Moon Howl begins as a simple case of a sick werewolf but quickly morphs into something far more sinister; revenge against Monty and all those deemed unnatural.  Monty and Simon must race against the clock to stop the annihilation of paranormal creatures while also keeping Monty from succumbing to the dark side of magic.  While Simon and Monty are tracking down the culprit behind this plot, we meet a few people from Monty’s background. Much to Roxanne’s chagrin, an ex from Monty’s past appears and inserts herself into Monty’s recovery.   With Monty’s love life being in a bit of upheaval, Simon’s on-going romance with Chi is still odd.  Maybe there was a novella or I am just not remembering everything that occurred in the previous novel, but it seems they finally went on a date.  But with everything that happens with Monty, the enraged werewolves, renegade mages and a vengeful dragon, Simon’s plate is pretty full and there was little time in it for him and Chi – except for everyone mentioning “the date” and being suspicious of seeing Simon with Monty’s ex.  Especially since the mage behind the enraged werewolves seems to be hell-bent on not only making Monty look like the guilty party, but also annihilate in him the process.   As in the previous novel, Simon and Monty’s adventure was gripping and thrilling, punctuated with humor and cultural references. I continue to enjoy Mr. Collin’s narration.  He seems to not only capture the personalities of the characters, but convey the urgency and desperation of the situations.  I eagerly look forward to the next novel in this series. My Ratings: Story: B+ Narrator: A Overall: A- Review copy provided by Tantor Audio. About the Book: Mystery. Malice. Revenge. Broken bodies and bloody messages are appearing in the darkest corners of New York City. Infected werewolves are roaming the streets attacking innocents. The Dark Council demands answers. They summon Simon and Tristan to investigate. The...
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May
2

Review: Scissor Kisses by Devon Monk

Review: Scissor Kisses by Devon Monk Scissor Kisses Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Scissor Kisses is the third novella in the Ordinary Magic series.  This long awaited novella featuring Myra was only a taste of what Gikany and Una hopes is coming in the next novel.  Though it contains the wit we have come to love, the substance was light in progressing some overarching plot lines. Unfortunately, after two novellas where we see the other two Reed sisters in the midst of an HEA or at the beginning of one, we were expecting something to come out of the strange romance between Myra and the demon, Bathen. However, though we have an interesting stalker situation (which was easy to figure out), nothing truly happens.  Myra learns more about Bathen and admits (finally) about the attraction to him.  However, Delaney’s soul is still in Bathen’s possession and seems like it will remain that way.  Though Myra may have a possible way to free Delaney’s soul, there appears to be fine print and no one is clarifying it.  Myra being the thorough sister won’t try to free Delaney’s soul until she knows what the consequences and ramifications are. If Gikany and Una could describe this novella, it is really a prequel – a set up for the next full length novel that we suspect will feature Myra working on freeing Delaney’s soul.  We aren’t sure what possible HEA can be found between Myra and a demon (prince or not).  But the romantic tension between them is palatable.  But though the novel doesn’t truly move major plot points forward, it is a fun story where we get Myra’s perspective.  For fans of the series, I think it is a delightful appetizer to the next full novel due out soon. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: This Valentine’s Day there’s more than hearts at risk… Police officer Myra Reed prefers her life orderly, predictable, and logical. Unfortunately, she lives in the little beach town of Ordinary, Oregon where gods vacation and monsters cause all sorts of trouble.  Her most recent headache is a sexy demon named Bathin, who has tricked his way into both living in Ordinary, and owning her sister’s soul. She wants him out of Ordinary. He wants…her. Myra will get her sister’s soul back no matter the price. But first she must deal with a stalker, a crossroads deal, and a dangerous spell that could fix...
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